Why I Love Toronto
St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church
If there is one thing I love to do on vacation it is going to church, but not in a Sunday mass kind of way. No, whenever I visit Europe or back home in Peru I always make sure to see at least one or two churches while I am there. The reason is because I find churches to be truly spectacular pieces of architecture, art and history.
Today I have a chosen a church that is truly a magnificent piece of art that features beautiful, detailed and interesting depictions of saints. I have also chose to highlight this particular church today, because it follows the Orthodox religion and if you are Orthodox, like I am, then there is a good chance that you are celebrating Orthodox Christmas today – therefore, Merry Christmas.
The St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church of Toronto located in the heart of the Ryerson Campus on Bond Street. The church was built in 1897 by John Wilson Sidall and originally opened as a synagogue before being acquired by the parish of St. George in 1937 which was established in 1909 by Greek immigrants. Its current state reflects renovations done to the church in the 80’s.
What is truly breathtaking about this church is the iconography in the Byzantine. Not only are they greatly detailed, but they were painted by Theophilos and Chrysostomos, Pachomaioi monks who are master iconographers. It is the only church outside of Greece to have been painted by the monks in its entirety.
I went to the Doors Open Toronto 2013 tour of this facility and was instantly taken in by the depictions of St. George my family’s patron saint. It was St. George who greeted me upon entering the church and I was greeted by the saint on a number of occasions inside. What is interesting is that the common depiction of St. George is of him slaying the dragon. I grew up with that image as a boy, until I was presented with what many of the old Serbians call a radicle portrayal of the saint. My artist uncle presented my father with his version of St. George on Christmas and it was unlike any other. It depicted the saint kneeling with the head of the slayed dragon on the right and him draped in royal robes on the left. Ever since then I have grown up with this modern portrayal of my saint.
My point is, no one in my immediate family had ever seen a depiction of St. George that didn’t involve him slaying the dragon and I had never seen one in a church setting before. That is why on my guided tour of the church I was shocked to learn that at the back, behind the pews, was an image on St. George in civilian clothing while he stood in front of Christ. The tour guide said that this is a depiction of the saint that is never seen.
The church is truly stunning and I recommended checking it out. Go to a mass or wait until Doors Open Toronto 2014 (hopefully it will be featured again). Truly this is a stunning church and I am glad I got the chance to explore it.